Texas Senate Moves Closer to De-Funding Planned Parenthood

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2011   |   11:23AM   |   Austin, TX

The Texas state Senate, over the weekend, moved the state one step closer to de-funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business and now the attention of pro-life advocates is on the state House.

The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 23 on Sunday evening, but the state House adjourned before passing the bill, according to Texas Alliance for Life executive director Joe Pojman.

“That means a critical component necessary to defund Planned Parenthood has not been passed,” he said. “It appears there will be a special session to pass this and other bills needed to balance the budget, possibly beginning Tuesday.”

There are two efforts lawmakers are using to de-fund Planned Parenthood: a provision to shift family planning grants to comprehensive primary care providers and the provision to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for Medicaid Women’s Health program.

Pojman explains that the HB 1 Conference Committee report cuts some funding for Planned Parenthood (in the DSHS family planning grants). Of the approximately $62 million cut from DSHS B.1.3 Family Planning, Planned Parenthood would have received 25% or $16 million while $46 million would have gone to public community clinics, Federally Qualified Health Clinics, and independent family planning clinics not associated with abortion.

“However, the conference committee restores $26 million to Planned Parenthood by reauthorizing the Medicaid Women’s Health Program,” Pojman explained. “Rider 30b allows Planned Parenthood’s affiliates to receive Medicaid family planning funds.”

Because of that, Texas Alliance for Life is urging state House members to support the perfecting amendment to Rep. Landtroop’s amendment to Senate Bill 23 to defund Planned Parenthood.

“The intent of the perfecting amendment to Rep. Landtroop’s amendment to SB 23 is to ensure that public dollars for family planning programs do not go to abortion providers and to their affiliates, i.e., Planned Parenthood,” Pojman said. The amendment puts into state law language to shift the DSHS family planning grants to public and non-profit community clinics that offer comprehensive primary care in addition to family planning and the ban on funding Medicaid providers that perform elective abortions and their affiliates.

“The net effect is enhanced healthcare for low-income women and their families because family planning funds will be shifted to organizations that provide better care, while taxpayers will be protected from having their tax dollars go to the abortion industry,” Pojman concluded.

Texas Right to Life is also pushing to de-fund Planned Parenthood and its legislative director Emily Kebodeaux recently explained that a top Texas official says the effort is legally valid.

“Very recently, Attorney General Greg Abbott released opinions ruling that our state’s Health and Human Services Commission could adopt rules for this program, and more importantly, that adopting rules does not conflict with federal Medicaid rules.  Thus, legislators interested in renewing the WHP have incorporated stricter requirements for participation in the WHP, excluding abortion providers from the program while being mindful not to step outside federal Medicaid rules,” she explained.

“By its own admission, Planned Parenthood (PP) serves almost half of the clients enrolled in the WHP, receiving tax dollars through Medicaid reimbursements for each client served.  Understandably and predictably, the bills to renew the program would indeed disqualify PP from the participation in the program since Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider.  Planned Parenthood Federation of America just issued a requirement that all clinics affiliated with its brand must now provide abortion or release affiliation with the PP brand name,” Kebodeaux said.

“The language to restrict abortion providers or agencies that are affiliated with abortion providers from the WHP is now more important than ever,” she added.